Another room in Leonato’s house.
(Don John; Borachio)
Don John detests Claudio so much that he is willing to try anything to hurt him. Borachio assures him that he has a surefire way to break up Claudio’s wedding with Hero. Since Margaret is besotted with him, he will arrange a meeting with her at midnight at Hero’s window, where they will playact that Margaret is Hero. Don John will see to it that Don Pedro and Claudio see this, thus convincing them that Hero is unfaithful. Don John promises Borachio a large sum of money if he pulls it off. (17 lines)
Enter Don John and Borachio.
It is so, the Count Claudio shall marry the daughter of Leonato.
Yea, my lord, but I can cross it.
Any bar, any cross, any impediment will be med’cinable to me. I am sick in displeasure to him, and whatsoever comes athwart his affection ranges evenly with mine. How canst thou cross this marriage?
Not honestly, my lord, but so covertly that no dishonesty shall appear in me.
Show me briefly how.
I think I told your lordship a year since, how much I am in the favor of Margaret, the waiting-gentlewoman to Hero.
I can, at any unseasonable instant of the night, appoint her to look out at her lady’s chamber-window.
What life is in that, to be the death of this marriage?
The poison of that lies in you to temper. Go you to the Prince your brother; spare not to tell him that he hath wrong’d his honor in marrying the renown’d Claudio—whose estimation do you mightily hold up—to a contaminated stale, such a one as Hero.
What proof shall I make of that?
Proof enough to misuse the Prince, to vex Claudio, to undo Hero, and kill Leonato. Look you for any other issue?
Only to despite them, I will endeavor any thing.
Go then, find me a meet hour to draw Don Pedro and the Count Claudio alone, tell them that you know that Hero loves me, intend a kind of zeal both to the Prince and Claudio—as in love of your brother’s honor, who hath made this match, and his friend’s reputation, who is thus like to be cozen’d with the semblance of a maid—that you have discover’d thus. They will scarcely believe this without trial. Offer them instances, which shall bear no less likelihood than to see me at her chamber-window, hear me call Margaret Hero, hear Margaret term me Claudio; and bring them to see this the very night, before the intended wedding—for in the mean time I will so fashion the matter that Hero shall be absent—and there shall appear such seeming truth of Hero’s disloyalty, that jealousy shall be call’d assurance, and all the preparation overthrown.
Grow this to what adverse issue it can, I will put it in practice. Be cunning in the working this, and thy fee is a thousand ducats.
Be you constant in the accusation, and my cunning shall not shame me.
I will presently go learn their day of marriage.